Family Integrity Newsletter #16 – Smacking Seminar

Dear Friends of Family Integrity,

You may have heard about the recent project by Otago University’s Children’s
Issues Centre in which the researcher, Professor Anne Smith, claims hitting
children lowers the IQ and breeds violent, anti-social behaviour. Few of us
would argue with such findings, except that they are referring to “spanking”
when they use the word “hitting”. And of course spanking and hitting are not the
same things at all. It has freshened up the debate somewhat anew.

This same Centre is holding a National Seminar (titled “Stop it, it hurts me”)
in Wellington, only two hours’ drive from where I live in Palmerston North, on
Friday and Saturday, 18-19 June, just a couple weeks away. This Professor Smith
and another speaker from Canada are the keynotes, and they will be putting forth
their propaganda as to why they think the state should ban parents from spanking
their own children. Professor Smith will release her full report at this
Seminar. There are also about four opportunities for addressing an open forum or
workshop situation plus plenty of time to talk to the other delegates and get
material explaining a more balanced view of spanking into their hands. Seminar
information and brochure is at:
or by phoning (03) 479-5038

It is these opportunities that need to have someone there who can present the
proper concept of spanking/smacking as the proven tool it is with its Biblical
roots, a tool skilfully used for millennia by loving/caring/concerned parents
who are able to use it in a wise, disciplined and consistent manner. To ban it,
as this Seminar’s speakers are promoting, is to regard all of us parents as
incompetents at best. We need to speak up and not let the best parents in this
country, and most Christian parents as well, be open to criminal prosecutions
and possible removal of their children by CYFS (where they are truly in danger
of abuse of all kinds) should Section 59 of the Crimes Act be repealed, as this
Seminar is promoting.

My daughter Genevieve, aged 24, and I are hoping and planning to go to this
Seminar. Genevieve is a very articulate and fearless activist in conservative
and Biblical issues such as this one. (She takes after her dad, they tell me!!)
We’ve been collecting and studying material around this corporal discipline
issue for a few years now and are keen to use our powers of persuasion at what
looks to be a fairly non-receptive audience: the delegates at this Seminar.

But we need finance. We simply cannot afford to pay the fees, although we both
can make the time to attend. The fees are $250 for me, $125 for Genevieve as an
unwaged person (which she is…she works for the Home Education Foundation for
free), $133.88 for the both of us to stay at the Seminar venue (to carry on
late-night debates), $40 for petrol and we’ll cover our own meal costs. That
adds up to $548.88.

There are 168 people on this list. If each one felt like making a donation
toward this opportunity for us to represent the traditional stance on parental
spanking of their own children and to report back to you all our impressions and
experiences of the Seminar, it would be only a donation of $3.27 (three dollars
27c) each.

Would you please consider sending a donation to Genevieve and I so we could
attend this Seminar? Please pray about it and consider it over the weekend. We’d
need to receive an indication if it will be possible for us to go by the middle
of next week, around Wednesday 9 June.

Any money received over and above the cost will be put aside for a future
fighting fund, which we will surely need as this issue hots up…..this Government
says it will be looking closely at repealing Section 59 in December 2005….so
your donations will most definitely be used in the fight and most greatly

Thanks so much for considering this request. Please decide on some action by
Monday or Tuesday 7-8 June, which is only a couple of days away.

Yours in the service of NZ parents,
Craig Smith
Family Integrity

Newsletter #22 — We’re Back!

Greetings all!

Genevieve and I have been into the linos’ den. It is not pleasant to be the only
two out of 150 over two days who opposed the rhetoric and spin doctoring of the
academics, social workers and social engineers who are totally committed to the
repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act and who are also apparently totally
opposed to responsible parental spanking for correction (that is, not for
punishment) in any way, shape or form. We managed to hand out 78 or so sets of
our 6 brochures. We are working on putting together a full report of our time at
the Seminar “Stop it, it hurts me: research and perspectives on the physical
punishment of children” over both Friday and Saturday just past. These people
are visionary; they are totally committed; they are well networked; well funded;
articulate; they do their homework and stay on top of the issues; they are
masters of spin doctoring and ignoring issues they do not want to discuss.

In short, the UN documents they always say NZ needs to conform to, by repealing
S59, also insist that UNBORN children need legal protection. They ignore that
and the fact that NZ killed 18,500 unborn children last year, 50 a day. We need
to press Dr Cindy Kiro, the Commissioner for Children, and shame her into doing
something about it.

Anyway, more later. If more of us had been there we could have given them even
more cause for pausing and considering. We certainly prevented their weekend
from being a pure rev-each-other-up talk-fest.


Craig & Barbara Smith

Family Integrity Newsletter #23 – Pt 1 Seminar Report

“Stop it, it hurts me; research and perspectives on the physical punishment of children.”

Greetings all! There is so much to say after attending that anti-spanking seminar in Wellington. We’ll do it in parts. here is the first installation.

My daughter Genevieve (24) and I attended the Children’s Issues Centre Seminar in Wellington, 18-19 June just past. The seminar was titled, “Stop it, it hurts me; research and perspectives on the physical punishment of children.” This is the first instalment of reporting our experiences to you.

This two day seminar was put on by the Children’s Issues Centre of the University of Otago in Dunedin. It was heavily financed by the UN organisation UNICEF. Keynote speakers included:

Professor Anne Smith who just released a review of over 300 pieces of the academic literature relating to this issue. Her review is titled “What Do Children Learn from Being Smacked? Messages from Social Science Theory and Research”;

Dr Cindy Kiro, NZ Commissioner for Children with a talk titled “Child Rights and Physical Punishment in Aotearoa New Zealand;

Associate Professor Joan Durrant from the University of Manitoba, Canada, with a talk titled “Whose Body Is It Anyway: Physical Punishment, Children’s Rights and Parental Responsibility”; and

Mr Tino Pereira, former broadcaster and journalist, speaking on “A Pacific Perspective on Physical Punishment” with the caveat printed in the programme:
“This talk will cover Tino Pereira’s personal view which may not represent mainstream Pacific thinking and practice.”

The entire seminar was focussed on the objective of marshalling arguments for the repealing of s59 of the NZ Crimes Act which reads:

“(1) Every parent of a child and…..every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.
(2) The reasonableness of the force used is a question of fact.”

The reason people give for wanting this section repealed is two-fold: 1) that it offers a legal defence for those who would subject children to abusive and violent physical punishment and 2) that we are obligated to repeal it in order to fall in line with Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which reads, “States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.” Note also how the titles of the talks use the term “physical punishment”.

But note that Section 59 does not provide a defence for violence, injury, abuse or physical punishment, but only for using reasonable force by way of correction. The wording here is significant. It appears that everything the speakers at this seminar are against (violence, injury, abuse and physical punishment of children) already have no legal defense in NZ.

It is corporal or physical correction, the use of reasonable force by a parent toward a child, which is legally allowed by s59. In fact it is more than just allowed: s59 says parents are “justified” in using such force when done for correction, meaning what they did is legally recognized as the right and proper thing to do.

Why is this, then, the target of these people’s ire? I believe they want to repeal s59 for four reasons:

1) It is obviously patterned after the Bible’s Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him”, therefore the anti-Christian element are opposed to it.

2) It protects and preserves all those parents with a worldview that allows for a disciplined, reasonable use of force and/or pain for the correction of children. Simply because this is at odds with their total rejection of any use of pain in childrearing practices, they are not willing to tolerate it.

3) It specifically protects the family unit from undue intervention by any authority that would interpose itself between parent and child. S59 recognises and acknowledges that parents are the people primarily responsible for rearing children and that the state shouldn’t intrude until it is demonstrated to be a necessity, as in cases of genuine abuse.

4) Because s59 does not perceive “reasonable force” as automatically constituting violence, injury or abuse, as does the anti-spanking lobby, therefore they are committed to its repeal. That is, s59 is an area these masters of Political Correctness will not be tolerant of nor will they celebrate the diversity it represents.

The people we encountered at this conference were united with all decent human beings in their abhorrence of any kind of abuse (physical, emotional, etc.) of children. However there appeared to be at least one notable collective blind spot which I will come to later.

These folks are committed, visionary, network well, some are well-financed and can pull money down from various NGOs as well as from state agencies.

They simply will not accept that any kind of deliberately inflicted pain is necessary to correct children. They seemed even more intolerant of the orthodox, historical Christian position that children are products of the Fall and are therefore born with an in-built sin nature.

These folks not only work their way into organisations that have leverage in the area of political lobbying and providing services to parents and children, they take organisations over and re-organise them to line up with their personal philosophies and/or political agendas.

Like all decent human beings they abhor violence toward children. The problem is that they lump traditional spanking into the same category as the most vile and vicious of beatings. In addition they appear to only ever caricature spanking as a harried parent or some other adult in a parent’s position losing control, going over the top, venting their anger on a smaller person in the same way any school-yard bully would act.

They talk of children’s rights and of parents’ rights. They vehemently oppose any suggestion that parents claim a right to hit children. We are also likewise vehemnently opposed to such a thing. We even oppose the idea that parents have a right to spank their children: parents do, however, have a responsibility and a duty to smack children by way of correction. Framing the arguments in terms of “rights” is totally unhelpful.

They talk of parents’ responsibilities toward their children, to provide the necessities of life, but never talk of children’s responsibilities to honour, respect and obey their parents. They are into extending as much to children as they can, though I didn’t hear anyone talk of child autonomy or independence.

The Children’s Commissioner was especially emphatic that children should be consulted whenever decisions affecting them are to be made, and that we adults need to ask them especially about how we should treat them and learn from them.

(Part 2 to come!)

Craig Smith

Newsletter #24 — Email wizard for MPs

Dear all,

If you would like to email any MP, a combination of MPs or all MPs in NZ
Parliament about the spanking issue, the Civil Unions Bill, or anything else for
that matter, it’s now as easy as anything to do it here:

Democracy is not perfect but its the best we have. Keep this link! It is a


Craig & Barbara Smith

Family Integrity Newsletter #25 – Pt 2 Seminar Report

Report on Children’s Issues Centre Seminar in Wellington 18-19 June 2004
(Attended by Craig Smith and Genevieve Smith of Family Integrity)

Part 2

The welcome included three Maori Tohunga / Kaumatua. The first talked of his real and expected obedience to his parents, but that you cannot order kids around today. He liked the Pakeha idea of reading to children for it helped them move forward. All three speakers ended with a song in Te Reo. The final one was to the tune of the hymn “How Great Thou Art”.

In Professor Anne Smith’s opening talk (“What Do Children Learn from Being Smacked? Messages from Social Science Theory and Research”), she said they’d been reading the research literature for six months. She had received her first hate mail as a result of this report. (Many people know instinctively that a move to ban s59 is an attack on their family’s integrity, but this hate mail is the kind of irresponsible reaction is not at all helpful. We must help one
another become familiar with the issues so we can communicate with these anti-family, anti-smacking people effectively). She said her only agenda is the present and future health and well-being of children. This statement lost some credibility by what followed, including her statement about “what we think is acceptable within families.” She reviewed some salient facts about life, that there was no one best way to discipline children, that there were vast differences in parenting styles and cultures, that we had to live with this diversity and that she didn’t want to prescribe to others. Research-wise, she said there was no general agreement or consensus between what constituted punishment and abuse. (Remember at all times that s59 of the Crimes Act only offers a legal defence for smacking if it is done for “correction”, not “punishment”.) To determine the difference between punishment and abuse (which really has no relevance to the repeal of s59, remember, since that deals with “correction”, not punishment or abuse) one looked at the frequency of hitting and the severity of hitting. (Note that all the speakers constantly misuse the English language, using the words hitting, beating, smacking and spanking interchangeably. They apparently could not differentiate between different uses of force, simplistically lumping them all together as one.) Professor Smith reviewed some of the difficulties with research of this kind and even asked rhetorically about any and every aspect of research, “But who’s to say what’s normative?” However, after explaining why one needs to be very tentative about drawing any conclusions from the research, she abruptly began using very positive and definite statements such as: “Those who say otherwise are dead wrong”; “Physical punishment does not help internalise moral codes”, “Physical punishment is clearly a health risk.” The last comment is more of an example of using emotive speech. While technically true, going for a swim is also just as clearly a health risk; so is walking across the street.

She said children who are disciplined and not re-affirmed could experience the toxin of rejection, and that we must approach these things holistically, ecologically, for looking at only specific things is not helpful. Yet she did not explore the other ways children experience rejection: giving the child to think he is being dumped at ECEs (early childhood education centres such as kindergarten) and schools for six and seven hours a day, never giving a child full attention or neglecting physical needs. Neither did she explore or explain the near impossibility of measuring any of these factors in a meaningful way, of how problematic it was to try to isolate any one factor in a troubled child’s life and measure its contribution to the child’s troubles. It was especially disappointing that Professor Smith did not explain how the statistics simply cannot show that physical punishment is a “cause” of the troubled child’s negative behaviour, but only that it was associated with that behaviour, in the same way that other studies statistically show that poverty and/or race are often associated with these same negative behaviours. None of the speakers ever looked at spanking as a force used to discipline or to correct or to restore but only as a force used to punish or to control or to restrain. They did not like even the thought of force used to punish or control but did agree that it seemed self-evident a parent must restrain a child from crossing the street or while in a car seat or from poking a knife in a power socket.

Professor Smith had a go at defining the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline was said to be the guidance of children’s moral, emotional and physical development, enabling them to take responsibility for themselves when they are older. Punishment or corporal punishment was said to be the use of force to cause pain, but not injury, for the purpose of correction or control.

I think she is making a false distinction. She has not defined punishment correctly; it reads more like a definition of spanking. Punishment is ultimately the domain of God, and I believe He may have assigned the State a partial role in this area according to Romans 13: it has to do with vengeance.

Parents are called to discipline and correct, not exact vengeance or punishment.

Her definition of discipline sounds more like disciple: verbal advice and role modelling, with an expectation of voluntary compliance. These folks did not like the idea that parents would ever force their children to do anything.

So what, according to Professor Smith, do children learn from being smacked? She came up with a list we thought made a lot of sense if you were talking about a child in an unpredictable environment where corporal “correction” was not consistent and where corporal “punishment” and striking out in anger by parents was a feature:

1. That inflicting pain is an appropriate way to influence others.
2. That pain is associated with parents (and fear and anxiety toward them).
3. That their security of attachment to their parents is threatened.
4. They learn hostility, anger, lack of trust.
5. They become cautious about exploring the world.
6. They act to avoid pain – egocentricity.
7. They get angry but dare not express the anger, and so externalize it: here
are the roots of early depression.

We thought this list, while probably accurate in the effects produced in dysfunctional homes, certainly does not apply to responsible smacking as Family Integrity defines it. Professor Smith described the “Authoritative” parenting style, which is precisely what Family Integrity endorses: Warmth; Consistency; Having clear boundaries; Clear communications and expectations; Induction and explanation; Rules, boundaries and demands; Consistency and consequences;
Context and involvement; There has got to be some negatives in controlling children’s behaviour. On this last, though, while Family Integrity would protect a parent’s conscientiously felt responsibility to spank, Professor Smith would not.

We would say Professor Smith’s list of 7 things children learn from being smacked is not true of proper smacking applied correctly. Proper smacking in fact does a number of opposite things:

1. Teaches the true nature of God: that using pain to correct helps children understand that God uses painful circumstances in real life to draw us closer to Him, to perfect us, etc., without thinking this is unreasonable etc.
2. Allows children to have a right understanding of justice.
3. Repairs broken relationships. Sin and breaking boundaries sets parents and children at odds with one another. Smackings clear the air and allow reconciliation to occur.
4. Is a quick form of correction, over and done with instantly as opposed to time out, grounding, withdrawing privileges, etc.
5. Lifts the burden of guilt from the child.
6. It is administered for a set of previously communicated infractions. The child understands the evil they have done and accepts the corresponding correction.
7. The parents model appropriate parenting.
8. Attachment is strengthened.
9. No hostility, no anger, just love.
10. When it comes to point 6 above re egocentricity, I believe that the opposite is correct. If you are giving rewards for good behaviour and withholding privileges for bad, etc., this will result in this kind of egocentricity. You will be bribing children to be good rather than teaching them that goodness is a chacteristic required by God as a servant of His and a responsible member of society.

Craig Smith
26 June 2004

Newsletter #26 Some sanity remains in UK

Family Integrity Newsletter #27 – Pt 3 Seminar report

Dear Friends,

I must apologise profusely for not writing and sending this earlier. We just got buried under other obligations.

So this is the third installment of the report of my daughter Genevieve’s and my attendance at the “Stop it, it hurts me” workshop in Wellington 18-19 June 2004 sponsored by UNICEF and put on by the Children’s Issues Centre of the University of Otago.

At the Workshop, first day:

Dr Cindy Kiro, Commissioner for Children, said there was a domino effect from Poverty in NZ and lack of money: it led to no education, poverty of spirit, cycle of despair and lower motivation. She went on to attack the religious (Christian) rationale for physical punishment, misrepresenting the position as one that demands punishment and retribution. She ended by saying we have a right and a responsibility to intervene into private families in order to stop abuse (which she had conflated with any kind of spanking). She also said we needed to listen to what the children are saying, and ask them for their opinion as to how they should be punished or disciplined.

Tohunga Amster Reedy said, “Our children from the time they are conceived they are taonga.” I was stunned by this statement, for it is radically anti-abortion. The implication is that traditional Maori culture is opposed to abortion, but I’d never heard this before. (Taonga means “treasure”.)

Presbyterian minister Rev Paul Ranby said some Christians advised not giving punishment when angry: so they go away to cool down and then come back to punish the child. He said he considered that to be evil.

Dr John Angus from Min of Social Development under MP Steve Maharey (who is pro-repeal of s59) was the only moderating voice: he mentioned there were wider issues of maintaining the independence of families and their freedom from over-zealous interventionists. He was openly criticised as a typical politician with an eye only for poll results.

At question time when it looked like I wasn’t going to be called on, I stood up. That got me their attention and the microphone. I told them they were misusing the language, that we have so many words such as spank, smack, hit, belt, beat for a reason: they mean different things.
Yet they used “smack” and “hit” and “beat” interchangeably. “Let’s try it,” I said: “The batsman watched the bowler’s delivery and spanked the ball.” No, it doesn’t work. Then I said they had not yet read the full UNCROC preamble, part of which says, “Bearing in mind that the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” And the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, Principle 4 states that “special care and protection shall be provided to [the child] and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care.” Since these UN documents define a child even as one who is not born, and since Tohunga Amster Reedy just said that from conception our children are taonga, when are we going to do something about the 18,500 children who were killed in their mothers’ wombs last year? When are you going to do something about these 50 deaths a day?” Silence. Then Dr Kiro said that raised some issues that needed looking at. But it was time for afternoon tea.

Saturday started with a keynote address from Canadian lecturer Joan Durrant, “Whose Body Is It Anyway: Physical Punishment, Children’s Rights and Parental Responsibility.” It must be pointed out that all weekend children’s rights were held up as what needed strengthening. Parent’s rights were said to be needing paring down. Parent’s responsibilities were lightly touched upon in relation to providing children with the physical and emotional necessities, and children’s
responsibilities were not mentioned at all. (I am not a fan for talking about rights. I believe it is far more helpful to talk about people’s responsibilities.)

Joan started her lecture by saying the Children’s Rights vs Parent’s Rights paradigm was counter-productive, and we needed to get away from that. I couldn’t agree more. She spent the next half hour explaining how Sweden got away from it, so she said, by instituting a total Socialist state where the state re-distributes virtually all of everyone’s income and openly intervenes at all levels. She painted such a utopian picture, some in the audience were moved to tears and the sighs and groans of longing were audible throughout her presentation, with some asking repeatedly, “Why can’t NZ be like that?” She spoke then in terms of children’s needs for Provision, Protection and Participation and made the statement that “Societies have the moral and legal obligation to meet these needs.” This simple statement, which sounds so good, so logical, is loaded with serious implications. It is a statement from the core of their belief system and world view. It gives the primary responsibility for children’s welfare to “society” rather than to parents. If fact, it lifts the responsibility from parents and delivers it to society. Who acts on behalf of “society”? The civil government, the state. It is upon the government’s powers of force (through legislation, police and other state agents and redistribution of wealth through taxation) that these socialist-minded folks set their hopes. If only everyone else thought as they did, life on earth would be a paradise, they tell us.

She said that physical punishment is not a parental right on account of two principles: A) the best interests of the child and B) non-discrimination in terms of both age and human rights. She
specifically stated that Sweden does not take the approach, “Children are bad and need to be punished” which is an inaccurate caricature of the orthodox, historical Christian position described in Proverbs 22:15.

Instead they see child rearing as a challenge for problem-solving techniques. She said the Swedes see the state as “beneficent” (her word) and that the “state needs to be free to do what makes life good.” Abuse was defined as or regarded as a disciplinary act. That is, to discipline
your child in any physical way is regarded as abuse.

She was very selective in which statistics she used to describe the situation. She explained that the child abuse statistics for Sweden were higher now than before corporal correction was banned not because Swedes had become more abusive, but because it was thought people these days were more likely to report it since it was no longer socially acceptable. She did not put the stats on the overhead. Read some for yourself at: One line from this source says, “The most relevant statistics we have obtained from Sweden are police-record trends in physical abuse of children under 7 years of age (Wittrock, 1992, 1995). Those records showed a 489% increase in the child abuse rate from 1981 to 1994. The same police records also indicated a 672% increase in assaults by minors against minors (under 15 in Sweden) from 1981 to 1994.” Spanking was banned in Sweden in 1979.

Samoan chief Tino Pereira, a long-time journalist here in NZ, traced missionary activity in Samoa. He said the entire society embraced Christianity because their old religion actually predicted a new religion would come from over seas and the hierarchical system of the church paralleled Samoan society. He summed up Christianity as 1) the Bible as the word of God; 2) the sinful nature of all; 3) violators should be punished. Samoa now sees physical punishment as essential to child rearing. But Mr Pereira said the church has changed and must now provide the forum for a new look at the abusive behaviours.

This mild attack on the church prompted Tohunga Amster Reedy to stand up and launch a more animated attack about how the churches were the first to be torched, and rightly so in his opinion, when the East Cape town of Ruatoria was burnt down a few years ago. Reedy stated that it was his hope at the time that the churches would not be rebuilt. This was met with approving laughter. When he said the churches were, in fact, rebuilt, one heard a chorus of disappointed groans. Mr Pereira looked somewhat uncomfortable during this verbal attack, as he was still at the podium, and did not hesitate to reply, once he regained the floor, in more conciliatory tones.

This was followed by discussion groups. I heard people from various ECE (early childhood education) groups say how they were emboldened to return home to not only re-affirm the “no-spank” zones of their particular institutions, but to also tell the parents that they must not spank in their homes either. In a private conversation with Joan Durrant I outlined the historical Biblical position of fallen children needing the rod of correction to drive out the foolishness. Being from the Canadian Bible Belt, she was very familiar with this concept, but did not believe in it. I asked, “How would that kind of a spank, one done for correction, not punishment or in anger, one motivated by love for the child, a spank that was controlled, measured and judicial, fit within the Swedish legal paradigm?” “It was totally unacceptable,” she said: any kind of spank was ruled out of bounds. “So we have a clash of two opposing world views, don’t we?” I asked. “Yes, we do,” she agreed.

“And ultimately one world view is going to win and the other will have to give way, won’t it?” “Yes, that’s right,” she said.

Christians are expected to tolerate the murder of the unborn, the vileness of homosexuality and the degradation of prostitution in a celebration of diversity and in a live-and-let-live sort of way, even when it is in your face and the broken lives that result are all well documented. But these folks will not tolerate the ancient institution of parental corporal correction in any way, shape or form.

I then went to a seminar by John Hancock, a young barrister who’d done some research on the application of s59 in NZ case law. The wording has a long history in British Common Law, which stipulated “reasonable and moderate” force for “correction” using a “proper instrument”, taking into consideration factors such as the child’s age and health and in the case of a female that the force was applied in a “decent manner”. This seemed from another planet to the assembled group, yet it reveals much of the world view of those days, and indeed, of the world view behind NZ’s own S59: very much a Biblical world view, for it assumes children need force applied in a decent way with a proper instrument for correction, as if the statute was written by re-working Proverbs 22:15.

I asked him if the 18 cases he had were an exhaustive list for those years of 1990 – 2002 in which Section 59 was used as a defense in cases of child abuse. He didn’t know. Now, Mr Hancock was wanting to repeal Section 59, so I would have thought his presentation would have put Section 59 in a bad light. He outlined 18 cases over those 12 year, meaning it is only tried as a defense 1.5 times a year. Another lawyer in the audience confirmed, when I asked Mr Hancock who didn’t really know, that using Section 59 was a rare defense. Genuine abuse was normally more than obvious. In these 18 cases Mr Hancock presented, the parents were found guilty in 10, a retrial was ordered in one and the child was removed from the family in one. The remaining six cases found the parents justified. So I concluded that the argument that child abusers hide behind Section 59 is simply not true.

In fact, the paper Mr Hancock presented was typical for its spin doctoring. It read (and I’ve left the incorrect grammar just as it was printed: “The section 59 defence has been successfully raised in cases where parents has been prosecuted for hitting their child with a bamboo stick, hitting their child with a belt, hitting their child with a hosepipe, hitting their child with a piece of wood and chaining their child in metal chains to prevent them leaving the house. These successful acquittals have all occurred in jury trials, where the jury has found that such actions have been reasonable, and therefore lawful, means of domestic discipline towards children.”

Mr Hancock hands his peers, who could include you and me as members of a jury, a back-handed slur, saying that a group of 12 of us cannot tell when the use of a stick or piece of wood (a wooden spoon?) is “reasonable” and when it is not in disciplining a child. He wants to remove from ordinary citizens as well as from parents the very opportunity to decide if it is reasonable or not. Do note that none of the horrific abuse and child death cases are among those where the Section 59 defense was used: even defense lawyers are smarter than that.

Yet those who want to repeal Section 59 are the first to call for its repeal when children like Coral Burrows and Craig Whakarau are brutally murdered by violent monsters already well-known to CYFS.

Mr Hancock wants us to cringe when we hear about metal chains. In fact, the step-parent chained the 14 year old wayward daughter to himself.


Craig Smith
Saturday, 27 November 2004

Family Integrity newsletter #29 – Father jailed for smacking

Fresh in from the UK: a father gets jail for smacking his 6 yo son. Read this and then below I have some comments to make.

Craig Smith,,1408569,00.html

Father jailed for smacking

Press Association
Wednesday February 9, 2005
The Guardian

A father has been jailed for smacking his six-year-old son.

The 33-year-old from the Broughton area of north Wales, who cannot be named to protect the identify of the child, was jailed for 42 days after he admitted three charges of assault. Flintshire magistrates’ chairman Graham Thomas said it would have been 60 days but for his guilty plea.

The child told police the pain he felt was “like a cheetah biting him”. The court heard how the defendant and his partner were separated but their two children regularly stayed overnight with their father. Justin Espie, prosecuting, said the boy and his sister had stayed with their father for a couple of weeks last summer. When he returned home, his mother saw bruising to his thighs and lower back and told the police.

The boy said his father had smacked him and sent him to bed because he had failed to wipe his bottom properly and had soiled his pants. His sister said her father had been very angry and had shouted and said “are you taking the mick or what?” to her brother.

A doctor said the bruising was highly suggestive of a non-accidental injury.

The father admitted that he had smacked his son on three occasions, five times each time. He had believed that it was lawful and reasonable chastisement.

Steve Coupe, defending, said he had not set out to assault his son. He had been smacked as part of chastisement, a last resort, but he now accepted that he had gone over the top and was remorseful.

This father made many mistakes.

First, he was angry. Parents must be in control of their anger. I would suggest this fellow wasn’t for the rest of the reasons listed.

Second he was shouting at the child. This is counter productive and damaging, except perhaps in an emergency situation: the child is stepping onto the street or reaching into a hot saucepan.

Third, his spanks were poorly administered, assuming the bruising described came from the smacks: thighs and lower back. This could indicate anger.

Fourth, he smacked for the wrong reason: the child exhibited some immaturity in personal hygiene, not rebellion. Smacking is for rebellious manifestations of foolishness in the heart, not lack of toilet training. It is to correct rebellious behaviour, not behaviour that just happens to get up your nose. It must be demonstrably rebellious. Usually the four Ds cover it: Disobedience, Disrespect, Dishonesty or Destructiveness.

Fifth, in NZ, the law says parents are justified in using reasonable force “by way of correction”. This fellow wasn’t trying to correct: he was trying to punish or use behaviourist psychology: administer pain so the child would associate pain with that action and not do what he’d done this time.

Sixth, forgive me, but he made a number of mistakes much earlier on which led to the separation from his wife. Now that the family was totally fractured and no longer operating as a unit, he could only realistically expect trouble. That is, child rearing is a team effort, and if mum and dad are not operating on the same wave length, there will be big problems. I totally disagree with everything this father did. But it has wrecked the family even further, causing the (ex)wife to report her own (ex) husband to the police and him getting a prison record. I trust a family working together would never resort to impaling itself on such a skewer.

Now, I’d also like to comment on the legal side. If they ever ban spanking in New Zealand, they will do so because they refuse to recognise the vast difference between violence/abuse and the loving, responsible, judicial, measured use of the rod of correction. They will call it “assault”. We must remain firm and clear on this: it is not assault, it is the discharge of a duty to drive the foolishness out of the heart. We must not let even our lawyers, who are supposedly working on our side, to call it assault. It isn’t.

The lawyer also used the classic but ill-informed rationale of the enemies of parents’ use of the rod of correction: that he started out to spank and went over the top. Spanking is not, emphatically not, on the same continuum as violence or assault. That means that spanking can never possibly escalate into assault with the parent “going over the top, or losing it” or whatever. Spanking isn’t even in the same ball park. We must be clear on this. The motivation, methodology, aims, objectives and outcomes of spanking on the one hand and assault on the other are vastly different, poles apart. If one is guilty of assaulting a child, he started off with that kind of unrighteous motivation to begin with: to get revenge, to punish, to save face, or some other thing centred in the selfish perpetrator of the assault, and not centred in a desire for the child’s best good, to correct rebellious behaviour and drive the foolishness out of the heart.

Craig Smith
Family Integrity
Wednesday, 16 February 2005

Family Integrity Newsletter #31 – The Implication of Crimes Act Section 60 to the Repeal Lobby’s Spu

Dear Friends,

The anti-spanking lobby uses many spurious arguments to repeal Crimes Act Section 59. The one, “You wouldn’t spank another adult. What makes it right to spank children?” is rendered invalid by Section 60. Read on: (The full wording of any Act is available at . I’ve edited these two sections quoted here.)

The Crimes Act Section 59 says:
Every parent of a child…is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

The Crimes Act Section 60 says:

The master…in command of a ship…or the pilot in command of an aircraft…is justified in using…force for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board his ship or aircraft…if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

Section 60 means one could do more than spank another adult: one could
wrestle him to the ground, hog-tie him and lock him in a room below

You see, these two sections of the Crimes Act are sitting in their own little sub-category with the title: “Powers of Discipline”. The Act recognizes that historically, all masters of ships, pilots of aircraft and parents of children naturally and logically possess special authority and responsibility over their charges (be they passengers or children).

The anti-spanking lobby wants to repeal Section 59, but not Section 60. Why? Because this would only weaken the authority and responsibility of parents but not that of masters or pilots. Why? Because their agenda is anti-family, not anti-cruise ship or anti-flight: they want to set children “free” from parents, alienating each from the other. They are not interested in the authority captains have over their passengers or what violence they might do them in an emergency. They are only interested in preventing parents from exercising effective authority over their children if it involves spanking.

They want children to be autonomous from parents, although they are not concerned about the loss of autonomy adults get as soon as they board a ship or airplane. Actually, in both cases, the decreased autonomy has been historically recognized as a good thing: passengers do not normally understand the workings and requirements of ships or planes, so captains must have special authority. Children do not understand life or social norms or what constitutes right and wrong, good and bad, until they grow up. So until then, parents are recognized as having a needful amount of authority to train their children in the meantime.

Their agenda is also socialist: they want to transfer parental authority and responsibility away from all us incompetent parents, who cannot be trusted to do things their way, and transfer this authority and responsibility for children to the nanny state. Many of them believe children should belong to the state. Many simply want to use the power of the state to see their pedagogy and child-rearing philosophy forced upon all others.

I’ll tell you what these socialists and social engineers and control freaks fear more than anything else. It is children growing up to be careful, incisive, discerning, independent thinkers. They do not want this current generation taking on board too much of the freedom-loving attitudes of their parents and grandparents, some of whom fought in WWII to preserve this freedom.

Let’s be clear about this: If we give the bureaucrats our children, they’ll know they can come for everything else.

Craig Smith
Family Integrity

Family Integrity Newsletter #32 – Press Release

The conviction of Pieter Donselaar for assaulting his son illustrates why NZ needs to preserve Section 59 of the Crimes Act and not repeal it.

Note first that Donselaar was not able to hide behind Section 59 as the anti-smacking lobby always says such brutes routinely do. The fact is that Section 59 is rarely used as a defense and offers no hiding place to criminal assailants.

Note second that the jury was perfectly capable to determine that Doneslaar did not use reasonable force. The force used must pass these two tests: that it is reasonable in the circumstances and is used by way of correction, not vengeance. Juries are also meant to reflect community standards, not those of the anti-smacking lobby group.

The anti-smacking lobby routinely twists the use of language by equating smacking with hitting or beating. When they quote Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) which says member governments will use “all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse”, they somehow equate Section 59’s “reasonable force” with “violence, injury or abuse”. The two are clearly not the same.

While the anti-smacking lobby is fond of quoting UNCROC’s Article 19, they studiously avoid UNCROC’s preamble which says, in referring to an earlier UN document, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”. That is, the anti-smacking lobby appear to be uninterested in the actual killers of 18,500 babies in NZ last year, yet totally absorbed by the possibility that some child assailants might go unpunished. There is a radical inconsistency here.

The anti-smacking lobby knows that repealing Section 59 would expose all good parents to charges of assault for merely grabbing a child by the arm, making him stand in a corner or confining him to his room. None of these would any longer be seen as “reasonable force” for such a defense from prosecution would no longer exist if Section 59 were repealed. That is, if Section 59 were ever removed, parents could be charged with assault for using any force with their children, reasonable or otherwise.

The intention of the anti-smacking lobby is to remove from parents the authority and responsibility they naturally have for their children. A glance at the Crimes Act shows that Sections 59 and 60 are alone in their own separate category with the title, “Powers of Discipline”. Section 59 says: “Every parent of a child…is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.” Section 60 says: “The master…in command of a ship…or the pilot in command of an aircraft…is justified in using…force for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board his ship or aircraft…if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.”

The Act recognizes that historically, all masters of ships, pilots of aircraft and parents of children naturally and logically possess special authority and responsibility over their charges, be they passengers or children. It would be highly irresponsible and illogical to remove this authority from parents as it is the most basic element of social control we possess. The police and schools will tell you plainly what happens when parents abdicate their authority over their children. We certainly don’t need anti-smacking lobby zealots forcibly removing this authority from the rest of us parents.

Section 59 must be retained.

Yours faithfully,
Craig S Smith

Family Integrity Newsletter #34 – Wellington Discussion

Dear Friends,

On Thursday 5 May Genevieve and I travelled to Wellington for a “Political Discussion” put on by the ACT party between Stephen Franks of ACT and Sue Bradford of the Greens on whether Smacking Should Be Made Illegal.

We picked up an old friend and zealous defender of home education, parents’ responsibility to smack and creation science on the way down and happily met two other dads who made their way to The Dog and Bone on Lambton Quay for the lunch-time talk.

It was a discussion with the two protagonists making statements then the MC handing a mic around to those who wished to comment. Genevieve and I had a fresh batch of Family Integrity brochures printed and made sure everyone there got a set. We met some of the same people (from EPOCH, Barnardos, Plunket, etc.) who were at the “Stop It” conference back in June last year. They were nearly evenly matched this time and the discussion had strong points made on the pro-parent, pro-Section 59 side. The other side really doesn’t have any strong points, but only appeals to emotions and what I would call a dishonest use of words and statistics plus shonky logic. One lady from Plunket talked to four of us for quite a time trying to convince us that if there is even a risk of children being abused, it is worth repealing Section 59. By this logic, of course, we’d need to chop down all the trees and adventure playgrounds because of the risk that children might fall from them.

They also admitted that they see any and all physical discipline as violent. They also agreed that yelling at children or using sarcasm was often just as bad as physical abuse. The logic of that says that we need to make yelling at children and using sarcasm illegal as well.

Sue Bradford came out and said it clearly: this whole thing is “ideologically” driven. That was the word she used. So it is not about what is right and proper, it is about her ideas that children should have the same respect as adults, and be treated the same way. Of course, if one tried to change Ms Bradford’s clothes or feed her or bathe her, she would have them for assault. If we parents FAILED to do those things for our dependent children, we’d be done for neglect. Somehow the anti-smacking lobby fails to see the dependent relationship of parent and child. They want to put the state in there between parent and child.

Yours for Family Integrity.
Craig Smith

Family Integrity Newsletter #35 – On Radio NZ

Dear Friends,

Looks like I’ll be on Radio NZ this Thursday at 11:05am to talk about
smacking. They’ve got Brian Donnelly, myself and a dad who recently got
into trouble when he shoved his teenaged son who then went to the
police. Let’s pray it goes well.


Craig Smith
National Director

Family Integrity Newsletter #36 – Parental authority at stake

Dear Friends of Family Integrity:

The following appeared in Maxim Institute’s “Real Issues” #161. It is ok as far as it goes. Please read it and my reply to it below. We must think about what we say, or else end up using the enemies’ arguments against ourselves, as Maxim has ended up doing here.

Craig Smith
Family Integrity

From Maxim Institute:
Parental authority at stake
Politicians loathe conscience votes close to an election. Perhaps that is why both Labour and National are taking party positions on Green MP Sue Bradford’s private members bill. Her bill, which was pulled from the ballot last week, seeks to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act.
The debate around section 59 has been deeply confused – but it should not be. Child abuse is unacceptably high in New Zealand and must be addressed. The legal recognition of parents’ authority over their children is an important part of tackling the problem. There is no clear correlation between countries with low rates of child maltreatment and those that have banned all physical discipline.
Despite frequent debate about the merits or dangers of smacking as a form of discipline, section 59 actually says nothing about striking a child. It provides a legal defence for parents who discipline their children using “reasonable force”. It respects the rights of parents to impose (force) their will on their child. Every form of discipline does this. Even placing a child in ‘time out’ requires the use of “reasonable force”. The defence exists for parents to allow them to act in the best interests of their child, even against the child’s own wishes. This is because the parent-child relationship is unique.
Certainly child abuse is always wrong – but it is already illegal. Several recent cases involving the use of section 59 have raised questions about the ability of juries to determine what constitutes “reasonable force”. If this is indeed the case, then we should consider amending section 59 to make it more explicit; but repealing it altogether would be one more step towards treating children as mini-adults who are completely independent from their parents and subject only to the state. Strengthening the natural family unit is central to improving children’s wellbeing, and this is where the focus should be.
The Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill is due to be debated for the first time in July.

Family Integrity Responds to Maxim:

Dear Friends,

Just a wee comment about Sue Bradford’s bill to repeal Section 59. It is, of course, totally unworkable, as you point out. But you didn’t point out that should Section 59 be repealed, parents using ANY force whatsoever, including the forced restriction of a child to his room or making him eat all his vegetables, would expose those parents to charges of criminal assault. Parents would become criminals whenever they force their will upon a child. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

Neither must we then turn around and partly agree with Bradford and take the first step toward Section 59’s repeal by saying “we should consider amending section 59 to make it more explicit” because we’re not sure “about the ability of juries to determine what constitutes “reasonable force”.” This is calling the intelligence and ability and integrity of our peers, the members of the jury, into question. This is nothing more than a ploy of Sue Bradford and co……since none of their arguments make any sense anyway, they’ll make up ridiculous, slanderous accusations against these unknown jurors, who are our peers, even you and I at times. Assault is defined in law; the prosecution will ensure the jury will know the nuances of Section 59….tinkering with it will ultimately tear it down.
Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

Family Integrity Newsletter #37 – Six of the Best

The following is an article about Commissioner for Children Cindy Kiro’s response to the mum from Palmerston (South) who gave her son “six of the best” and was justified by the jury. I was recently visiting Oamaru, just north of the town of Palmerston, and the folks there told me that the school of the boy who received the “six of the best” was simply delighted with the boy’s improved behaviour.

After the article is a letter I wrote to editors all over the country….it was published in Timaru at least.

Craig Smith,2106,3294678a10,00.html
Call for law change after ‘six of the best’ verdict
27 May 2005

Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro wants a law change after a North Otago woman who give her son “six of the best” with a bamboo cane and several strikes with a horse whip was found not guilty of assault.

In Timaru District Court yesterday, a jury took just over an hour to find the 39-year-old woman not guilty.

Dr Kiro said today that the use of the whip and cane, the woman’s admission of what she did, and the fact the beatings left marks indicated child abuse.

“To be quite frank I am amazed that it would be considered anything other than that…these are all elements of a child abuse investigation and they are all present.”

In the Timaru court case, the woman admitted giving her son “six of the best” with a cane for misbehaving at school and striking him three to four times with a horse whip after the boy waved a baseball bat at her partner.

Dr Kiro said even people who supported the continuation of allowing the use of reasonable physical force by parents under section 59 of the Crimes Act did not want the use of implements to be allowed.

She said New Zealand had one of the highest rates of child death from maltreatment in the developed world, ranking about fifth out of 27 countries.
“We seem to have an attitude that continuing to basically hit our children is acceptable and it’s certainly not acceptable.”

She said the jury’s verdict sent a clear message such child abuse was acceptable.
Section 59 needed to be repealed immediately as jury’s generally were supporting parents over children when court action was taken.

“New Zealanders have very ambivalent attitudes about the use of physical discipline against children. I think on one hand most of us, not, all, have experienced it. Most of us were raised by parents who basically hit us, Dr Kiro said.

“They did it in moments of anger. This is often about parents venting their anger… not about teaching children how to behave properly.”

She said there were better ways to discipline children.

“I’ve been a parent and I know how stressful it can be.

“I can understand exactly what drives people to feeling so frustrated that they want to hit their child. But I just think you shouldn’t do it.”

Dr Kiro said punishments should not be cruel or degrading – she had heard of children being forced to eat hot chillies, washing mouths out with soap or being made to sit still on a chair for hours one end.

“I get to see some of the data from Child Youth and Family.

“People would be incredulous at some of the things that are devised as punishment for children. They are totally humiliating and degrading and I don’t know why people persist in this type of behaviour.”

My response:

I am amazed at Dr Cindy Kiro for so quickly condemning a jury of her peers for agreeing that the North Otago woman who administered six of the best to her son was justified in using this force. You can be sure they were drilled in the nuances of Section 59: that the force had to be reasonable in the circumstances and that it had to be for the purposes of correction, not vengeance. The jury only took an hour to come to a conclusion that both of these factors were present. They had all the facts before them. Dr Kiro does not.

Dr Kiro is intimating that these 12 jurors are too thick to tell the difference between reasonable force and abuse. Such condescension is breathtaking. It is a form of bullying and intimidation when it comes from someone in her position of power and authority.

Worse still is her caricature of parents who smack their children. She assumes parents smack their children when, at the end of their tether, they explode in anger and frustration. She is free to speak about her own parenting experiences this way and to denigrate her own parents who, she says, “basically hit us”, but again, she errs greatly in painting the rest of us in these outrageous colours. I greatly resent her slur on both my parents and me. I further wish to advise Dr Kiro in all sincerity that such inappropriate and uninformed comments call her credibility into serious question.

Craig Smith

Family Integrity Newsletter #39 – Repeal would be uncivilised

Greetings all,

I have stumbled across a nest of research showing that the Swedish experiment, banning smacking back in 1979, has not been the wonderfully liberating social development we’ve heard spoken of for 25 years now.

No. Instead, more and more social scientists are having a closer look and finding some real problems. Here below is just a wee teaser.

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

From: Family Facts, Canada
Full article at:
Parents Are Still Alright: Disciplinary Discretion Upheld in Highest Court

Spanking has become a point of contention in Canada and around the world. Organizations have formed to question the effectiveness of spanking and to encourage parents to eliminate its use. Recently a coalition used the courts in an attempt to define spanking as abuse and make it illegal – a move that if successful would have made criminals of countless loving Canadian parents.

Several European countries have already gone down this road and banned all forms of corporal punishment.[1] Sweden has been the frontrunner on this issue, and in 1979, made corporal punishment illegal. Unfortunately, much of the research that has studied the effects of this law has been biased and methodologically flawed. Currently, researchers are re-analyzing the data, improving on the methodology, and discovering that Sweden’s anti-spanking (a.k.a. smacking) experiment has not been as
successful as originally reported. Dr. Robert Larzelere writes:

“While having the appearance of being altruistic and humanitarian, the 1979 law has let to unwarranted interference in private and family life, and has caused serious damage to the relationship between parents and their children, to the detriment of the family.

“Before the Bill abolishing the physical punishment of children was presented to the Swedish Parliament, several leading lawyers expressed strong misgivings. Their fears that the law would lead to prosecutions of parents who employed mild physical sanctions, while doing nothing to reduce the number of cases of genuine child abuse, have materialized. The damage caused by this legislation is so serious that it should not be followed by any civilized country. Rather, Sweden needs the help of other nations to have this destructive legislation repealed.” [2]

1. Austria (1989), Croatia (1999), Cyprus (1994), Denmark (1997), Finland (1993), Germany (2000), Latvia (1998), Norway (1987), Sweden (1979).

2. Larzelere, Robert D. (2001) Families First. Issue 2, Autumn 2001. “Sweden: data does not support success claims” p. 15.

Family Integrity Newsletter #40 – Bradford’s bill faulty

Greetings all!

Our second ad is in this morning’s Dominion Post. The first one was in last Wednesday’s Dominion.

Sue Bradford’s Bill to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act, due to come before Parliament on Wednesday 27 July, is titled:

Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill.

See the entire Bill at:

Clause 3 of the Bill reads:
3 Purpose The purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act to abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as a justification for disciplining children.

You will notice that both the title and clause 3 are hopelessly illogical: how can force be a justification for disciplining children?

It is a method, not a justification. As Bradford has written it, this is a nonsense.

But also read her introduction to the Bill, the Explanatory Note:

“The purpose of this Bill is to stop force, and associated violence and harm under the pretence of domestic discipline, being inflicted on children. Presently, section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 acts as a justification, excuse or defence for parents and guardians using force against their children where they are doing so for the purposes of correction and the force used is reasonable in the circumstances. The Bill will repeal that provision. The effect of this amendment is that the statutory protection for use of force by parents and guardians will be removed. They will now be in the same position as everyone else so far as the use of force against children is concerned. The use of force on a child may constitute an assault under section 194(a) of the Crimes Act, a comparatively new provision in the criminal law, and the repeal of section 59 ought not revive any old common law justification, excuse or defence that the provision may have codified.”

She makes it clear that “the statutory protection for use of force by parents and guardians will be removed.” Her first observation in relation to this is how it removes from law any recognition of the special relationship of care, love, responsibility and authority of a parent toward a child: “They will now be in the same position as everyone else so far as the use of force against children is concerned.”

And the result of that removal she then spells out: “The use of force on a child may constitute an assault under section 194(a) of the Crimes Act.”

Parenting is a monumental task. To properly express parental care, love, responsibility and authority requires all kinds of force, force that is expressed in many different ways and methods. Smacking is only one such force. It is used to correct manifestations of rebellion in children such as the four Ds: Disobedience, Disrespect, Dishonesty, Destructiveness. Other kinds of force are used when a parent dresses a child, tells them to come in out of the rain, makes them eat their veggies and then brush their teeth, to go with you to church, to go to bed now or else, to be sure NOT to watch that certain video while visiting at Jimmy’s place up the road, etc., etc. Sometimes the force is physical, sometimes it is verbal intimidation, sometimes it is the imposition of the parent’s will on that of the child, sometimes it is an appeal to a family habit or tradition. At any time an onlooker who held to a philosophy of child autonomy could decide that none of these things was right to impose on a child without the child’s expressed desire that they happen, and then go complain to the authorities. At any time the child could decide he didn’t want to go along with the parent’s wishes/commands, and then go complain to the authorities. Since the legal justification for using force of any kind is removed by the repeal of Section 59, such complaints would not be scoffed at but taken dead seriously. As Bradford points out, “the use of force on a child may constitute an assault under section 194(a) of the Crimes Act.” That is the use of any force, not just smacking.

This Bill goes way over the top. It criminalises most acts of parenting.

It will cause parents to live in constant fear of being charged with abuse. This Bill must be voted down and tossed out.

Please pass this message on to as many folks as you know. Please write these things to your MP.

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

Family Integrity Newsletter #42 – desperate

Greetings all!

Tomorrow the Bill to repeal Section 59 is being introduced to Parliament for its first Reading, or vote, to see if it will progress any further along the Parliamentary system.

Time for one last email to the MPs telling them to vote against it. Here is a link to help you do it now, quickly and easily:
Scoop news service had a desperate attempt by Save the Children and Plunket and Commissioner for Children to find a piece of research that might support their position of wanting to repeal Section 59, that is, ban smacking.

Check it out at:
The survey was apparently in a magazine and a response by readers of that magazine, titled “Tots to Teens”.

In case anyone was unsure about it, this method of data gathering is totally unprofessional and statistically useless. The people responding were already self-selected as readers of a particular magazine, rather than a random sampling of New Zealand’s population.

So all the article at the scoop link above can claim is that readers of that magazine may fit their description, but not New Zealanders as a whole. You will notice, however, that they claim the results are representative of all of New Zealand parents. This is just plain unethical. Desperation drives the unprincipled to do dirty things.

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

Family Integrity Newsletter #43 – Ban thinking deeply flawed

Greetings all!

As the debate has revved up in the blogs and over the email discussion groups, more and more aspects of the dangers of this Bill to repeal Section 59 come to the fore.

Because our pre-teenaged children clearly are incapable of giving legal consent, virtually anything we do to them is classed as force against them. If Section 59 is ever repealed, any show of force with our children becomes illegal, an act of criminal assault according to Section 194(a) of the Crimes Act. Did you know that hugging your child against its will, picking it up and carrying it to its room as well as giving it a smack…any of these acts will see you facing a possible maximum two year jail sentence?

When the UK faced a similar dilemma last year, Normal Wells wrote in The Times of 5 July, on behalf of Family & Youth Concern: “If we are seriously concerned about the protection and welfare of children, we should not pursue a ban on smacking, and should resist the attempt of a vocal minority to impose their own views on parental discipline by force of law.

“A ban on smacking would not give children more protection, but less. It would divert already overstretched child protection resources away from the children who need them most, and expose happy children from loving homes to the trauma and potential damage of police and social service interventions, even though they are at no risk of harm.

“In Sweden, the 1979 smacking ban contributed to a 489% increase in physical child abuse cases classified as criminal assaults from 1981-1994, and the perpetration of criminal assaults against 7-14 year-olds is increasing most rapidly in age groups raised after the law against smacking was passed. According to Unicef, Sweden’s rate of child maltreatment deaths differs very little from that of the UK, and of the five countries with the lowest rates of child abuse deaths, only one has a ban on smacking.

“Parents have a unique relationship with their children, bearing unique responsibilities and unique powers, and an occasional disciplinary smack is by no means incompatible with a warm family life where children are loved and cherished. It is ludicrous to suggest that there is no difference between loving physical correction by a parent and a violent assault perpetrated by a stranger. There are many things that parents do to and for their children every day that would be quite inappropriate, if not illegal, to do to another adult, which is why the anti-smacking lobby’s appeal to the principle of ‘equality’ is so deeply flawed.”

Newsletter #44 – Stakes too High

Greetings all!

We occasionally hear the argument that repeal of S.59 will only mean the police will have greater freedom to go for the abusers and that they won’t waste their time on common sense harmless whacks on the backside in the supermarket.

I’ve written off to the Commissioner of Police, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General, the Minister of Police and the Minister of Justice to ask:

“Should Section 59 of the Crimes Act be repealed, what assurances can
you give to the parents of New Zealand that they will not be charged
with assault under Section 194(a) of the Crimes Act if they subsequently were to smack their child(ren) on the clothed buttocks with an open hand by way of corrective discipline?”

When I get authoritative answers from these folks, then I might relax a wee bit. Until then, I am inclined to let the negative experience of
Sweden plus common sense (why make a law you never intend to enforce?)guide me. The stakes (a charge of criminal assault, losing my children, spending up to two years in jail) are simply too high for me to take a laid-back attitude to this.


Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

Newsletter #46 — Bill went through first reading

The Bill to repeal Section 59 had the first reading tonight and passed 65 to 54. So it will now proceed to a Select Committee and be open for public debate and the making of submissions. None of that is likely to happen until after the elections.

I must say, we listened to the speeches just prior to the vote. Those in favour of the bill spoke to the topic and trotted out their normal rhetoric, much of it quite plainly false and misleading, such as the continual claim that they are not out to criminalise parents who give a wee smack. But that is precisely what the effect of repeal will be. Those who spoke against the Bill were useless…they rambled on, wasted time in telling dumb and self-incriminating stories, and generally acted as if they’d done no home work on the Bill.

It was very disappointing.

The brochure printing is held up, but we should see them Saturday. We will certainly have plenty of occasion now to hand them out far and wide as the issue is going to be with us for quite a few more months yet.


Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

Newsletter #47 — Vote in Poll

Dear Friends,

Please go to the Stuff news website:

and vote in the poll on the right hand side of the page…it may be just off-screen, so scroll down a wee bit.


Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

Newsletter #49 — SPCS Press Release

For immediate Release……….

PO Box 13-683 Johnsonville

Media Release
9 August 2005

“Every Child Counts” Anti-Smacking Lobby Dishonesty

“It is quite dishonest for the lobby group Every Child Counts (ECC) to tell the public that it “supports call for Section 59 repeal” (Media release 13/6/05 issued shortly after Sue Bradford’s bill was successfully balloted for debate), says Society president Mike Petrus.

ECC spokesperson, Dr Emma Davies, stated: “Repeal of section 59 would ensure consistent messages about the unacceptability of violence against children and remove the legal defence in situations of serious assaults against children [sic]”. Dr Davies knows that the repeal of s. 59 forms no part of ECC’s four “key policy goals” of its Policy Overview Statement to which its affiliated organisatons and individual supporters have given their support. ECC has failed to retract Dr Davies false claim, despite having received a complaint from an affiliate organisation, that, like many others, has never adopted a position either for or against repeal of Section 59. ECC’s falsehood continues to be propogated through Green Party MP Sue Bradford who is determined to promote the repeal of s. 59 through her private member’s bill: the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill.

Ms Bradford has issued misleading statements in media releases and in parliament claiming that ECC supports the repeal. In a Green Party blogsite update, issued on the same day of the ECC media release (13/6/05), it stated: “Add … Every Child Counts to the list of organisations supporting Sue B’s Bill.” Sue Bradford has made no effort to correct this falsehood nor her outrageous and libellous claim that a woman acquitted by a jury of her peers in the Timaru Court of a charge of assault against her son, was a “child abuser” who had assaulted him with a “horse whip”.

In parliament she asked Rick Barker: “Why is the Government not prepared to repeal section 59 immediately, when results of the court case in Timaru last week [Timaru Herald 24/5/05] so clearly showed that this law still allows parents to assault and beat their children-in this case with a horse crop and a cane?”

According to Dr Davies, ECC is “a coalition including Barnardos, Plunket, Save the Children, Unicef NZ and AUT’s Institute of Public Policy, supported by more than 250 other organisations and thousands of individual supporters” (13/6/05). The number of affiliated organisations has now risen to over 330 and yet none of them have been notified by ECC that the repeal of s. 59, or the referral of Bradford’s bill to a select committee, is supported by ECC. It continues to invite the public “to demonstrate their support for the nation’s children by adding their names to the Every Child Counts campaign” while at the same time misleadingly and deliberately presents itself to the public as a coalition of members who are ALL opposed to smacking and the repeal of s. 59.

Granted, some individual affiliates within ECC, such as Barnardos, Plunket, Save the Children, Unicef NZ and AUT’s Institute of Public Policy do oppose smacking of children and support the repeal of s.59. Some have even issued media releases stating their individual positions clearly. However, it is quite dishonest for ECC to seek to campaign for new affiliates and issue media releases on behalf of all affiliate organisation that presents the entire organisation as opposed to smacking and supporting the repeal of s. 59.

Despite the complaint of misrepresentation from an affiliate member noted, ECC issued yet another media release on the day the politicians debated whether to refer Bradford’s bill to select committee. In it ECC called for MPs to send the bill to the select committee even though nothing in the ECC Policy Overview Statement even suggests that this is its positon on the bill. By representing all its affiliate organisations and individual members as calling for MPs to vote this way, it sent a clear signal to the public that ECC is a lobby group that wants s.59 repealed.

The bottom line is that Every Child Counts IS just a lobby group determined to have Section 59 of the Crimes Act repealed (this section permits parents and caregivers to use “reasonable force” on children in certain circumstances involving domestic discipline). ECC has four key policy issues which all the 330 plus affiliated organisations have agreed to. These are: putting the child at the centre of policy development, giving children a good start, ending child poverty and reducing child abuse and neglect. The Society supports these broad aims but is opposed to the repeal of s. 59 (see our website It believes that this claimed quick-fix solution to curing the nation’s social/moral disease of “child abuse” is misguided and erroneous in law.

ECC claims that its primary focus is that children should be at the centre of all policy development and implementation. However, children have mothers and fathers who are responsible as primary care-givers for their nurturing, discipline, social well-being etc. ECC has adopted no formal position on section 59 it claims, it wishes to keep its focus on the strategic level of promoting to political parties and to the public a sustainable future through placing children at the centre of policy. However, it has positioned itself as one of the key anti-smacking lobby groups calling for the repeal of s. 59.


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